A.S. Senate Fails to Pass Resolution on Divestment

Photo by Juan Gonzalez | Photo Editor

Lauren Marnel Shores
Executive Content Editor

Last night in Corwin Pavilion, UCSB’s Associated Students (A.S.) Senate once again failed to pass a resolution on divestment, voting 10-14-0 against the resolution via a secret ballot. This deliberation followed a 10 and a half hour meeting, with public forum stretching past 2:00 a.m.

Co-authored by Senators Uribe and Briseno, the resolution directs the UC to divest funding from companies who provide military assistance or facilitate the economic development of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories. This most recent chapter in the divestment discussion marks the sixth time since its introduction in 2013 that A.S. has both opened discussion on and failed to pass such a resolution.

“These companies are providing weapons to one side and I do not feel comfortable knowing that is where my money is being spent. This university needs to focus on being financially neutral in this situation rather than clearly favoring one side with our funds,” said public forum speaker Zainab Bansfield during last night’s meeting.

Specifically, the resolution calls for divestment from Boeing, CNH Industrial, Caterpillar, Cemex, General Dynamics, General Electric, L-3 Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Siemens, United Technologies, and Valero Energy; UCSB’s Associated Students and other UC organizations have investments amounting to a total of $127 million during the 2018 fiscal year, according to the resolution.

This list of 13 corporations is an increase from last year’s resolution, which did not previously include Boeing, CNH Industrial, Caterpillar, Raytheon, and Siemens.

With a public forum speaker list of 89 names, community members expressed a wide array of opinions on the matter, in which the last speaker waited five and a half hours between the time they signed up on the speaker’s list to actually appearing before Senate at 2:29 a.m.

Much of the controversy surrounding the debate revolves around claims that the resolution is anti-Semitic in nature by choosing to withdraw from countries specifically invested in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

This fear has been bolstered by flyers found on March 31 along the 65 and 66 blocks of Del Playa drive with statements such as “Jews worship the Devil” and “The Holocaust is a LIE.” These flyers have since been condemned in an official statement by A.S. Senate; however, multiple speakers at last night’s meeting stated they felt that it was insensitive timing to introduce the divestment resolution the week following such an event.

“As soon as that was condemned by this body, and said they stand against all forms of anti-Semitism, this resolution was released,” said Aaron Raimi, a first year political science major during public forum. “Now I don’t think that’s any sort of coincidence.”

“From hate crimes perpetrated by our community members to anti-Semitic flyers found outside our homes, the last month has been a trip. And just when we thought it was done, we have BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] presented the next week,” said Aaron Hendizadeh, the former Second Senate Pro-Tempore. “It’s been seen in campuses all across the country that once BDS passes, it becomes a kind of more acceptable to be anti-semetic [sic].”

Student sponsors Dylan Kupsh and Fatima Adbel-Gwad defended the resolution during new business, stating that it is “not seeking to divest from a people or place, but from companies.”

Furthermore, they touched on their intention to separate this resolution from the BDS movement as a whole, stating, “We should follow what’s in writing with this resolution … we shouldn’t conflate with more terms. We should be talking about this resolution. We should be talking about what’s here.”

Following ten and a half hours in Corwin Pavilion, Senate unanimously moved into a secret ballot in which the resolution failed with 10 in favor, 14 against, and zero abstentions.

“Everyone on both sides, thank you. It was really great listening to all of you speak tonight. We had a lot of really passionate speakers and a lot of really heartfelt stories tonight. Go get some sleep, please,” Internal Vice President Steven Ho said, ending the meeting at 4:55 a.m.

TBL’s Senate live coverage from the evening can be found on our Twitter page. Stay tuned, as TBL will provide further in-depth coverage of the Divestment debate and its impact on the UCSB community.

Minh Hua, Annette Ding, Arturo Samaniego, Jessica Gang, Noe Padilla, Annie Huang, Raymond Matthews, Juan Gonzalez, Sam Yang, and Fabiola Esqueda contributed reporting.